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Flaws of traditional device drivers framework Too much functionality in device drivers Duplication of code Large size No buffering support Limited facilities.

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Presentation on theme: "Flaws of traditional device drivers framework Too much functionality in device drivers Duplication of code Large size No buffering support Limited facilities."— Presentation transcript:

1 Flaws of traditional device drivers framework Too much functionality in device drivers Duplication of code Large size No buffering support Limited facilities for applications: byte stream only, no support for data formatting, type or priorities No flow control

2 Streams Replaces the device drivers framework, Used as well for terminal drivers, pipes and networking Modular, message-based Provides facilities for buffer management, flow control, priority-based scheduling

3 Streams A STREAM is, in essence, a dynamically configurable stack of modules. Each module does some processing on a data flow as it goes from the device to the user or vice-versa. The user perceives a STREAM as a file. It is handled with the usual open, read, write, ioctl and close system calls. Data written by the user is packaged into messages, which are sent downstream. Data read by the user comes from messages sent upstream by an underlying device driver.

4 STREAMS A couple of additional system calls, putpmsg and getpmsg, allow the user to send and receive STREAMS messages directly. Yet another system call, poll, provides an alternate interface for select. Therefore, each STREAM is composed of these elements: A mandatory STREAM head talks to the user process doing I/O. The head fills the gap between user system calls and the message flow. Thus, a write into the STREAM is handled by the head by sending a message downstream. Conversely, a data message going upstream is used by the head to service read system calls on the STREAM.


6 A (possibly empty) stack of STREAM modules typically performs some computation on messages passing by and forwards them either upstream or downstream. For example, IP on X.25 encapsulation (IXE) could be implemented as a STREAMS module; IP packets would be (de)encapsulated as they pass by the IXE module. A terminal-line-discipline module is another example; typed characters can be cooked as they cross the line-discipline module. A packet-sniffer module could thus be used as a diagnostic or debugging tool.

7 STREAMS A mandatory STREAM driver interconnects the STREAM to the device sitting below it. STREAM drivers can also be software only; for example, a STREAMS driver could be used to implement an SNMP MIB for the kernel, or a driver could be written to emulate the behaviour of a true hardware driver for development purposes.

8 STREAMS A nice property of STREAMS is that different modules (or drivers) can be decoupled quite easily. Hence, they could be developed independently by different people who don't know the actual protocol stack where they will be used, provided the interfaces between the various modules and drivers are well- defined. STREAMS includes standard interfaces for the transport, network and data link layers. In addition, modules can be dynamically ``pushed'' onto (and popped off) the STREAM, which is a very convenient feature.

9 STREAMS Finally, special multiplexor drivers allow several STREAMS to be multiplexed into another one (or ones). The ip module in Figure 2 is a multiplexor. In this example, it multiplexes both TCP and IP messages using either an Ethernet driver or an IP-on-X.25 driver. A full STREAMS network can be built (see Figure 2), and many different protocol stacks can be set up dynamically for operation.


11 Streams Multiplexing Upper multiplexing Lower multiplexing Combination: two-way

12 Message passing For control and data Several ways to handle: pass directly, process, schedule, redirect, discard Components: struct msgb, struct datab, data buffer Multipart message

13 Variants of STREAMS Before Linux was available, Dennis M. Ritchie designed STREAMS for the ninth edition of UNIX. Since then, the STREAMS concept has been improved and revised by different operating systems. Variants ranging from UNIX SVR4 STREAMS to Plan 9 Streams exist today.

14 SVR4 STREAMS SVR4 complicated the neat and clean design of the ninth edition's STREAMS mainly to add new features, such as atomic gather/scatter writes and multiprocessor support. Different devices such as pipes and fifos were also re- implemented using STREAMS

15 STREAMS implementation of pipes

16 STREAMS implementation of network software Despite being far more complex than Ritchie's Streams, SVR4 STREAMS simplify the construction of network software. Indeed, most networking software for UNIX System V machines is written using STREAMS (including the socket interface). There are several reasons to use STREAMS: standard service interfaces to different layers (DLPI for the data link layer, NPI for the network layer and TPI for the transport layer), flexibility and SVR4 compatibility.

17 Linux STREAMS - LiS LiS features include: support for typical STREAMS modules and drivers ability to use binary-only drivers convenient debugging facilities

18 Similarities Many similarities exist between the implementation of LiS and SVR4 STREAMS. This is because initial project members followed the ``Magic Garden'' as a design guideline. Current maintainers were also heavily influenced by SVR4 STREAMS, because they had been writing STREAMS drivers for SVR4 since 1990. Thus, the stream head structure, queue structure, message structure, etc., follow the SVR4 model.

19 Differences Differences between the two do exist. SVR4 disallows STREAMS multiplexors to use the same driver at more than one level of the stack. For example, if we had a STREAMS multiplexor driver called ``DLPI'' and another called ``NPI'', the SVR4 STREAMS would disallow the stack: NPI(SNA) DLPI(QLLC) NPI(X.25) DLPI(LAPB). LiS allows these combinations, since LiS developers could see no harm in such configurations.

20 LiS configuration The configuration file used for LiS is modeled after the SVR4 sdevice and mdevice files. However, LiS syntax is different and combines into a single file the functions that SVR4 used two files to specify. The LiS build process (Makefiles) allow individual drivers to have their own config file. They all get combined into one master config file, which is then used to configure LiS at build time.

21 LiS configuration In SVR4, the STREAMS executive is a linkable package for the kernel. It is not hard-wired into the kernel. With LiS, the STREAMS executive is actually a runtime, loadable module of the kernel, one step more dynamic than SVR4 STREAMS. A quick overview of the LiS implementation would reveal a STREAM as a full-duplex chain of modules (see Figure 4). Each one consists of a queue pair: one for data being read and another one for data being written. Each module has several data structures providing those operations (i.e., functions) needed, as well as statistics and other data.


23 LiS operations Module operations are provided by the programmer and include procedures used to process upstream and downstream messages. Messages can be queued for deferred processing, as LiS guarantees to call service procedures when queued messages could be processed. Most of the LiS implementation deals with these queues and also with the message data structures used to send data through the STREAM. Messages carry a type code and are made of one or more message blocks. Only pointers to messages are passed from one module to the next, so there is no data copy overhead.

24 LiS head The head of the STREAM is another interesting piece of software. In Figure 5, you can see how it is reached from the Linux VFS (Virtual File System) layer which interfaces the kernel with the file systems. Note that even though Linux does not have a clean and isolated VFS layer, Linux i-nodes are v-nodes in spirit and its file system layer can be considered to be a VFS.


26 Binary-Only Drivers LiS also makes provision for linking with binary-only drivers. This allows companies such as Gcom which have proprietary drivers to port their driver code to LiS and distribute binaries. This is an important feature if we expect companies to port their existing SVR4 STREAMS drivers to LiS. The more of these available, the more the Linux kernel functionality is enhanced.

27 STREAMS Works with Linux TCP/IP The whole TCP/IP stack can be reused; thus, TCP/IP performance with STREAMS is a non-issue. LiS comes with an adapter driver that fits below standard Linux IP and interfaces off to STREAMS drivers using DLPI. Gcom uses this to interface their STREAMS-based Frame Relay and (soon) X.25. Also, a contributed driver that will be distributed with LiS - sits on top of any Linux MAC (mandatory access control) driver as a client and presents a DLPI interface above.

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